Posts Tagged ‘genre’

BISOU Records/Beast Records – 18th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, there’s simply no escaping the fact that grooves and hooks are important. However wearying the conventions of rock and pop are so much of the time, there’s still a vital appeal. Sometimes you just need something to grab hold of, something to grip your short, feeble attention span. But what happens when you bring all the conventions together at once and then mash them, bash them, squash and smoosh them with joyful irreverence? It goes one of two ways: it’s a horrible hybrid mess with no cohesion, or it’s genius. Supersound is genius. It mines many aspects of those conventions to forge an album that’s got groove and hooks, while making unusual takes on country, rockabilly and post-punk, and wrapping them in an abundance of noise that’s pretty gnarly at times. It’s all in the mix – blues rock, alt-rock, grunge, even regular radio rock – but delivered in a twisted, mangled fashion that’s guaranteed to keep it off the airwaves.

The story of the creation of this masterwork is decidedly un-rock’n’roll as it involves Red (Olivier Lambin) suffering from presbyopia and purchasing a bass because it has ‘bigger frets and fewer strings’ and recruiting a collective who can actually see to play their instruments to realise his musical vision. It’s perhaps no wonder it’s a blurry haze of bits and bobs. Said lineup involves ‘two drummers, Néman (Zombie Zombie, Herman Düne) and DDDxie (The Shoes, Rocky, Gumm)’ who Red asked to create their own rhythms, plus Jex, aka Jérôme Excoffier, his lifelong accomplice, who still has excellent eyesight, who played all the guitars on the album.

A strolling bass and jagged guitar slew angular lines on ‘Normal’ that’s spineshaking swamp rock, sounding like a collision between the B52s and The Volcanoes. ‘Ready to Founce’ has all the groove and all the swagger, and has the glorious grittiness of Girls Against Boys at their scuzzy, sleaze-grind best, calling to mind ‘Rockets Are Red’. Then, ‘Shark’ sounds like Butthole Surfers covering an early Fall Song. ‘Screen Kills’ is altogether gothier, with acres of flange swathing the trebly guitar, and all paths lead to the tense, needling jabbing jangle of the final song of the album, ‘Carcrash Disasters’. It could have so easily been tempting fate, but while they veer wildly and screech around every corner on two wheels, DER remain on the road to the end of a crazy conglomeration of an album that buzzes from start to finish.

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Room40 – 14th January 2022

I know I’m not alone in experiencing the sensation that large parts of my life have been spent wading through treacle. It may be something of a cliché, but it’s a valuable simile for that slow struggle.

Although these are the associations circulating sluggishly in my mind, they have no bearing on the origins of the album’s title, which is, as Cooper himself explains, ‘a soundtrack for an otherwise silent film. The title of the album, and of course the film, is borrowed from my late friend Fred Hardy’s book The Religious Culture of India – Power, Love and Wisdom, considered to be one of the most important books on the subject. In this book Fred wrote,

“In 1835 the historian Macaulay investigated whether there was anything in the traditional Indian systems of learning and education that could be used in the training of native personnel. In fairness to Mr Macaulay, we must remember that those were days long before the writings of a Tolkien or a Mervyn Peake. He came to the devastating conclusion that people who believe in oceans of milk and treacle had nothing to offer to a modern system of education. A straightforward, realistic assessment in an age that believed in science and realism! The effects were far-reaching. Traditional Indian ways of looking at the world were written off as obsolete. India was provided with three universities (Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, founded in 1857) as the hothouses to nurture a custom[1]built, English-speaking Indian intelligentsia. A new age began for India, and two of its inevitable consequences were the demand for independence and the production of atomic bombs and satellites by the post-independent Bhārat.”

This places Oceans of Milk and Treacle in an altogether more academic context, and perhaps, if only a shade, this knowledge does colour my appreciation of the work specifically, an album consisting of nine compositions.

The pieces themselves present a collaged array of sounds, from distant rumbles and clanging hammers, to wind-chimes and static crackles. The clanking windchimes and eerie vocal moans and bleats, which drift amidst a breaking storm on the first piece, ‘A Chart of the Wet Blue Yonder’ contrive to create something quite sinister, and a significant contrast from the playful Jazz frivolities of ‘Boogie Boards and Beach Rubbish’. Oceans of Milk and Treacle is very much an album of contrasts and of strange sounds, combining chillout grooves and collaged field sounds and weirdness, often simultaneously.

It’s one of those albums that packs in so much, it transcends definition or categorisation, for better and worse – because genre distinctions tend to be lazy marketing pitches, and music – or any other artistic medium – should just be. Why can’t a book simply be a book or a story? Why does I have to be crime fiction, a thriller, sci-fi, or otherwise tossed into the netherworld of literary fiction or speculative fiction? And so why can’t an album simply be an oddball amalgamation of all sorts and simply be an album? Electric guitar and Moogs or something tinkle around while something electronic happens in the background to fill the space like crickets scratching, but clearly actually something less natural in origin on the warping, bending array of almost-pleasantness of ‘Tirta Gangga’, a woozy collision of sedated bleeps and chimes that sounds like it’s nodding off near the end – and it’s not an unpleasant experience.

The title tracks goes deeper into jazz territory, but there’s trilling analogue noise humming in the background, and it nags away at the peripheral sense, while on ‘Mono-Hydra’, amidst tweeting birdsong, the musical elements sound warped., bent, as if the tape is stretched and the notes spin off their spindles to spin into strangeness. ‘Under Vertical Sunlight’ brings hectic percussion to the fore, amidst drones and groans, before drifting into abstraction on ‘Toward Great Piles of Masonry’, which sounds like a wander down a city street while the clubs are still open.

Oceans of Milk and Treacle isn’t really a journey, but then what is it? A meandering sonic amble through a succession of sonic spaces and a range of scenarios? Possibly. Whatever it s it’s interesting, and devoid of genre conventions.

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